Rural Express:Giving kids second chances
Cecelia Campbell-Livingston, Gleaner Writer
From the day she was born, 18-year-old Vinette Cowans has never known the joy of walking due to a medical condition.
Last Saturday, when Rural Xpress visited the May Pen Hospital, where the ISMS Operation Kids USA team was screening patients with a view to corrective surgery, Cowans was the picture of happiness as she had already been chosen.
She will be having a procedure done called bilat hamstring release as well as a bilat minimal heel cord release procedure. Although she has no idea what the technical terms mean, Cowans is looking forward to the procedure.
Already aware of the fact that she will still not be as "good as new" she gratefully said, "I will be able to walk with the aid of a walker and, to me, that's better than this wheelchair."
The waiting area was filled with parents and guardians who came out in droves with their children, hoping that their charges would make the list for corrective surgery.
Director of Operation Kids Colleen Hekemian said it had been a fantastic experience so far.
"We have a number of booked paediatric patients - children with lip burns, club feet, femur out of socket.
Many parents are hanging their hopes on making the list, but the director said they would be attending to the cases that needed the most help.
Although this is the first mission for the team in Jamaica, this is not Hekemian's first visit to the island.
She said she came last July with Rotarian Paul Lawrence, who lives in New Jersey.
"He asked us if we would be interested in doing a mission in Jamaica," she said.
With the mission's main objective being to give their support to 'weak areas', May Pen Hospital was selected as the place from which to 'camp out'.
Now that they are actually working out of the hospital, Hekemian said she wants to go beyond their initial mission and help the hospital source some well-needed equipment.
'We are hoping to get a C-Arm - a special X-ray machine brought into the X-ray room - which is a major help during orthopaedic exam. They don't have any at all here," she observed.
She said the local staff had been supportive of her and the team. She believes a return trip is on the cards as well as additional help for the hospital.